Interview: 5 Minutes with Catching Flies

Spacious Meditative. Embracing. London-based newcomer Catching Flies is producing something called dreamwave. And he’s going to teach us to catch flies with his bare hands.

“Catching Flies”. Mr Nym thinks you’re playing on the idea of shoegaze-step. But Pseudo thinks you catch glowworms in tiny cages and use them to light your studio. Your Earmilk Mix (available on your Soundcloud page) starts with a quote about catching flies with your bare hands. What’s in the name?

How did Pseudo know? Don’t tell the council though… Yep, I can catch flies with my bare hands. My studio doubles up as a fly archive – boxes and boxes of flies I have caught over the years. 1971 sand flies, 2007 Egyptian fruit flies, you name it…

When did you start producing, and what were you using?

I started producing seriously a few years ago. Before that I’d just mess around on and off with Logic. Always been on Logic. In fact, years ago I had a Tascam 4 track tape recorder which I’d use to record weird tunes I’d written. Thankfully I sold the Tascam and lost all the tapes.

With the boom in sites like Soundcloud and Mixcloud, there’s a lot of music around to stream, but not as much to actually download for free. It seems people are still quite protective of their music, despite the proliferation of new artists. Your debut EP, ‘The Stars’, was released (to great acclaim) as a free download. Is this something you think more people should try? Or do you think that charging for music still serves some additional purpose beyond paying for marketing, production and the occasional new Porsche?

It’s a difficult one. When you’re starting out giving away music for free can be useful – people pay more attention, and it’s likely to spread further (sadly…) At the same time though, it can devalue the product and it doesn’t seem all that fair – a lot of time, effort, soul, sweat, goes into making records… In an ideal world everyone would still buy music like they used to but I guess you can’t change the hands of time… it’s so easy to download music now. I found a torrent download link for The Long Journey Home EP (it’s now been deleted!) which had 9,000 or so downloads– just think if they had been sales.

You use a large ensemble of instruments over your various releases. How much free rein do you give the musicians in interpreting the scores you give them?

I do most of it myself apart from the horns and a couple of the guitar bits. I usually have ideas in my head that I’ll play on the piano to the musician and we’ll build it from there. So the ideas you hear are mine, but played by the sax or whatever it is.

Are you happy with how ‘The Stars’ still plays, a year after release?

Yes. It’s amazing how far that record went in terms of people finding it, though naturally there’s a part of me that feels it no longer represents where I’m at musically. There’s a load of new stuff coming, I’m working on an album. You heard it here first!

You’ve also released a few remixes, including most recently a remix of Louis M^ttrs’s ‘War With Heaven’. Do you approach remixing differently from producing from scratch?

Yeah, doing remixes can actually be quite liberating. Starting an original track can be pretty daunting sometimes because you’re starting with a blank canvas. With a remix, there’s a load of different ideas to play with. I usually go through the stems carefully and pick out the bits that catch my ear. Then I condense them all down so I have say 15 snippets of audio. Sometimes I’ll just use the vocal but with the Louis M^ttrs remix there was some nice instrumentation in there so I used bits of it as well.

Louis M^ttrs – War With Heaven (Catching Flies Remix) by CATCHING FLIES

Mr Nym thinks that inspiration comes from within whereas Mr Pseudo thinks it comes from somewhere else. What’s your experience of inspiration?

Inspiration is a funny thing. It comes and goes, and comes at the most random of times. Sometimes I’ll have this sudden urge to just get something down – I may be eating or cleaning my teeth, whatever it is. It can also come from a song, a person, a certain situation, feeling a certain way.

And what do you do when the inspiration doesn’t come?

Get away from the studio! I used to sit there and try and force something out but it’s counterproductive. The best way is to just get away from the computer, get out of the studio. Read a book, go for a walk. There’s a good interview with Doom about that – he says you know, do stuff you wouldn’t usually get the chance to do, turn a frustrating thing into a positive thing. And after doing that, I’m usually craving to get started again!

You’ve got a gig at Mansion in York on 4 November? What can we expect from a Catching Flies performance?

At the moment I’m doing DJ sets. I play anything and everything but it always tends to be warm & melodic. I’m also working on the live show and will start touring that mid-2014.

What’s next?

An album! Lots of shows, lots of new music… Can’t wait for everyone to hear the new stuff!

And if you could ensure all the proponents of one genre of music were locked away, the key thrown into the sea and it was made preposterously illegal to even mention their existence, what genre would that be?

Oooh that’s a tough one to answer. I try not to rubbish genres. More a case of it’s not for me, rather than it’s shit. But… I’ve never been too keen on Heavy Metal!

DISCLAIMER: No infinitives were harmed in the making of this interview.

Interviewers: Mssrs Pseudo and Nym